Taking a one-day writing workshop can be a great way to launch a new project or jump start one that’s stalled. So I was excited and energized by the prospect of Spring Awakening! — a one-day intensive with Jill Dearman, a novelist and gifted writing coach (www.jilldearman.com). Action-packed and revelatory, the workshop delivered big benefits on a host of fronts, including goal-setting and character development. It was held in a quiet corner of The Writers Room, an appealing, well-organized Manhattan-based “writer’s sanctuary” (http://www.writersroom.org/).
Jill is an insightful and compassionate writing coach with a playful sense of humor which goes a long way toward easing the angst of writers in the throes of creation. Our group of about a dozen scribes was as varied as they come: One published author was drafting a second novel; another was a screenwriter shifting to novel-writing; another was penning a memoir. But whatever project we were bringing to the table, we all shared one goal: We wanted to push toward completion armed with fresh tools in our writer’s kitbag.
The workshop was enriched by guided visualizations, revealing character-building exercises, and goal-setting strategies. A few tips for keeping a project on track:
Break it down: Whether you’re writing a novel, film or play, managing it will be easier if you break it into big chunks and tackle them one by one. Jill suggested giving each part an exciting working title as a way of energizing both you and your writing.
Set a date: Committing to a workable deadline – three months is a good time frame – can be a simple, but powerful way to stay focused. Based on the stage of your project, your deadline could aim at getting the first 50 pages or so on paper, finishing a first draft, or working through a revision. Be sure the deadline is realistic given your work style and circumstances. Once you commit to it, take that commitment seriously: keep moving.
Front-load to get going: Jill noted that pushing forward with extra energy and intention in the early days of your time frame will help build momentum. Setting a series of interim targets – month-long goals – can also help you make steady progress.
Be flexible: Life happens. Things come up. You or someone in your family may have a health issue; you may take a trip. External events that affect your deadline are going to crop up – it’s part of life, so have a plan for adjusting to them. For example, if you miss a writing session, commit to making up the time within a week.
“Plan your work, then work your plan” – a friend of mine used to say. Bravo, Jill! Equipped with fresh and fruitful tools, let’s all write on!